Years After Bankruptcy Case Closed, Reopening of Asbestos Claims by MDL Not Judicially Estopped Due to Failure to List Claims in Bankruptcy Petition

In 1997, the decedent’s claims for asbestos exposure against shipowners represented by Thompson Hine LLP were administratively dismissed, with the option of pursuing at a later date. In 1999, the decedent brought claims against various defendants, including the shipowners represented by Thompson Hine LLP. In 2001, the decedent received a separate cancer diagnosis that he claimed was asbestos related; he died in 2002. In 2003, his widow, the plaintiff, filed for bankruptcy, which was closed four months later. In 2011, the MDL reinstated the action …

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Boiler Manufacturer Denied Summary Judgment Based on Plaintiff’s Contradictory Testimony on Product ID

In this NYCAL case, the plaintiff, Mark Ricci, claims secondhand exposure to asbestos from his father’s work with boilers, including boilers manufactured by defendant Cleaver-Brooks.  During the testimony of the plaintiff’s father, Aldo Ricci’s, he originally answered that he did not recall observing anyone working on a Cleaver-Brooks boiler. Later, during plaintiff’s counsel’s questioning, Aldo did identify Cleaver-Brooks. Based on the contradictory testimony, Cleaver-Brooks moved for summary judgment, arguing that Aldo’s identification of their product was prompted by the plaintiff’s counsel and should be disregarded. …

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Plaintiffs’ Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint to Delete Federal Question Neither Prejudicial Nor Futile Where Remaining Defendant’s Summary Judgment Motion Did Not Argue Federal Claims

The plaintiff was diagnosed with mesothelioma and filed suit against a sea of defendants in New York state court. After responding to interrogatories indicating that he was exposed to asbestos while in the Navy, Foster Wheeler timely removed this case to federal court based upon the federal government-contractor defense.  When the only defendant remaining was Crane,  the plaintiffs moved for leave to file a first amended complaint which would eliminate any federal claims or defenses.  At the time the paintiff moved for leave to amend, …

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Maritime Law Applied to Plaintiffs’ Claims and State Court Filing Retained Plaintiffs’ Right to a Jury Trial

In this federal court case, defendant Crane asserted that state law should apply to some aspects of plaintiffs’ claims, while the parties appeared to agree that maritime law applied generally to the matter.  The court examined this case sua sponte on the issue of whether maritime or state law governed the remaining claims of the plaintiffs, and whether the plaintiffs have a right to a jury trial.  The court found that maritime law applied and trial would be before a jury.

In applying the locality …

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Talc Manufacturer’s Motion to Quash Granted Based on Lack of Specific Personal Jurisdiction

In this California case, the plaintiffs allege that the decedent, Oscar Villanueva, was exposed to asbestos contaminated talc from the use of Old Spice Talcum powder.   Defendant Whittaker, Clark & Daniels, Inc. (WCD) was one of the suppliers of talc to Shulton, Inc. (Shulton), the former manufacturer of the Old Spice product. WCD moved to quash for lack of personal jurisdiction and the court allowed plaintiffs the opportunity of jurisdictional discovery.

Following the discovery, the court granted WCD’s motion to quash. In its analysis, the …

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Case Remanded Based on Dismissal and Settlement of Defendants with Federal Defenses

This case was originally filed in the Third Judicial Circuit in Madison County. The defendant, Crane Co., removed based on the Federal Officer Removal Statute 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1) and defendant General Electric Company (GE) joined in. The plaintiff moved to remand the case and GE was the only defendant to oppose. Prior to the court rendering a decision, GE was dismissed from the case and Crane settled. CBS Corporation then filed a notice of joinder or removal, which the court found untimely.

The court granted …

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Merchant Mariner Plaintiffs’ Allegations Focusing on Vessel Operation — Instead of Vessel Design — Prohibited Removal Under Federal Officer Removal Statute

This is a consolidated case in which various plaintiffs alleged asbestos exposure while working as merchant mariners aboard many different vessels and employers. Each plaintiff also served on at least one Navy ship. The plaintiffs sued their former employers in Louisiana state court under the Jones Act and general maritime law. The defendants removed to federal court, and the district court remanded. The 5th Circuit held that remand was proper.

The defendants argued for removal under the Federal Officer Removal Statute, in which actions …

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Jury Returns Defense Verdict for John Crane, But Awards $14 million against Celanese

On October 8, 2015, a South Carolina jury found Texas-based materials company Celanese Corp. liable in a lawsuit brought by the family of a maintenance worker who died of cancer after being exposed to asbestos at one of Celanese’s plants in the 1970s.

After two weeks of trial, the jury unanimously awarded the family of Dennis Seay $12 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages as a result of Celanese’s negligence. John Crane, the second defendant in the case and the maker …

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Experts Deem New Legislation in Oregon Insufficient, Call for Stricter Asbestos Rules

On October 19, 2015, Oregon environmental regulators invited two dozen asbestos experts to a meeting in an effort to determine the best way to implement a new law that would require contractors to investigate for asbestos when demolishing a house. The group, however, went far beyond the scope of this approved legislation, determining that contractors should provide documented proof that they’ve checked for asbestos before a demolition, that asbestos work done by homeowners should no longer be exempt, and that the rule should apply to …

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California Jury Returns Complete Defense Verdict in Mesothelioma Claim

On October 7, 2015, the Alameda County Superior Court in California found in favor of defendant John Crane Inc. in an asbestos exposure lawsuit. The plaintiff, James Harkin, had asserted that his mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos from valve packing manufactured by John Crane Inc. and brought several asbestos-related product liability claims.  He further argued that his mesothelioma additionally occurred as a result of working in the presence of Oscar E. Erickson employees while they disturbed asbestos containing materials at an oil refinery.…

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